THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture and the Department for Climate Change to look into a trial to increase the chances of having a ship’s garbage recycled onshore.  

Commercial seafarers already separate recyclable garbage onboard ships but offloading the materials for recycling at Australian ports has proved difficult because there’s not enough port waste reception facilities. 

Shipping Australia is supporting the potential trial and policy adviser Jim Wilson said there was “clearly a problem”. 

“The garbage has to go somewhere,” Mr Wilson said. 

“There’s a lot of plastic that’s been released into the ocean and the majority of that is released by rivers, mostly in Asia. 

“That said, about 20% of the plastic in the ocean is from a marine source. A certain section of that will be from the offshore industry and fishing industry, but shipping has a responsibility too.” 

Mr Wilson also said there have been examples of plastic bales washing up on Australian beaches which are partly incinerated. 

“It’s not conclusive but that does strongly point towards discharge from ocean-going vessels, specifically commercial ships,” he said.  

“Commerical ships have incinerators on board.” 

AMSA, the Department of Agriculture and the Department for Climate Change want to clear the way for more recycling and diversion of waste away from landfills. 

A pilot trial is underway so that recyclables can undergo normal biosecurity clearances but then be diverted to be recycled just like any other domestic or municipal recycling. 

Australian biosecurity law mandates specific treatment of shipping waste such as treatment by autoclave or a deep burial of waste. 

“There’s a problem with invasive species and we don’t want to see them get a foothold in Australia. They cause profound economic damage,” Mr Wilson said.  

“If you’re bringing garbage from overseas into the country, that’s a biosecurity risk.” 

The ports involved in the trial are the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal, the White Bay Cruise Terminal, the Port Botany Bulk Liquids Berth, Fremantle Port, Hay Point and the Port of Gladstone.